Leicester - Southampton preview: Saints aiming to maintain consistency in tough away fixture

Saints will be aiming to dent Leicester's title hopes, knowing a win will put them in a great position to achieve European football again.

Leicester - Southampton preview: Saints aiming to maintain consistency in tough away fixture
Picture source: Southampton's official website

After collecting two vital wins over European rivals Stoke City and Liverpool before the international break, Southampton know that if they can get the win at Leicester this weekend then they put themselves in with a great chance of reaching the Europa League this season with a number of teams fighting for the Europa League places this season.

The Saints will be looking to continue their strong recent run on the road which has seen them win three of their last five matches on their travels including the fabulous win at Old Trafford earlier in the year a goal scored by January signing Charlie Austin.

Crunch time for Saints

With just seven matches remaining in the season, Southampton know that it's vital that they continue their fine recent form this weekend with a positive result against league leaders Leicester but, know that this will be their most difficult match left in the season as they chase a strong end to the 2015/16 season. They have got an incredibly difficult ending to the season as they face three of the current top four whilst also facing two of the bottom three all of whom will be fighting for their lives to achieve their various ambitions this season.

The Saints boss must decide this weekend which formation is the most effective to prevent the dangers of a Leicester side who have been superb all season and continue to defy the odds and lead the table by five points heading into the final seven matches of the season. Boss Ronald Koeman has the option to revert to a 3-5-2 formation for the visit to the King Power but, the traditional formation which the Saints play, 4-2-3-1 is the most likely formation to play although, Leicester themselves do play with two strikers which may make Koeman think twice about which formation he elects to use.

Having there just been an international break where 17 Saints players went away to represent their countries the break may have come at a bad time for the club as they have just collected two important victories over teams who are just around them in the table Stoke City and Liverpool. The Saints do have an extra day though with the fixture being played on Sunday and with some of the players only returning yesterday it could hand the club a big boost as it allows the players an extra day recovery before this massive match for both sides in the Premier League.

 | Photo: Daily Mail
Jamie Vardy (pictured) scored the late leveller in the sides' 2-2 draw during the previous fixture at St Mary's. | Photo: Daily Mail

Can Saints halt run away leaders?

The Foxes continue to surprise just about everyone this season as they lead the table by five points to Tottenham Hotspur and they are firmly the favourites to lift the trophy in May. The Foxes main threats come from striker Jamie Vardy and winger Riyad Mahrez who have both been nothing short of superb this season and have between them have a combined 56 goals and assist which is streets above any other duo in the league. If you can keep both of them players quiet then you give yourselves a much better chance of getting something from the game as those Leicester fans are fabulous and once they score to go a goal up it's hard to keep them quiet.

The Saints are in fine form themselves and you sense that the midfield battle will be a key one as Foxes pair Danny Drinkwater and N'Golo Kanté has both played pivotal roles in the success of the club this season. Victor Wanyama and Oriol Romeu are the two players most likely to play in the Saints midfield and they will be in for a really tough afternoon against a brilliant Leicester midfield duo. If they can win the battle then you sense that the Saints could go a long way to completing a massive victory on Sunday afternoon.

Team news

Leicester will have a strong squad to choose upon for the visit of the Saints but, Matty James will remain out for the visit of the Saints and another injury is that of Andy King who hasn't been in the squad for about a month after struggling to overcome a slight hamstring injury. He may make the bench this weekend but, at this stage of the season it wouldn't make sense for the club to take such a risk. James isn't too far from returning but, there is no chance of him coming back into the side as the form of Kante and Drinkwater this season has been world class and offers no hope to anyone else breaking into the team in that position. There were also some doubts over Kasper Schmeichel during the international break but, he will be available after shaking off that minor muscle injury.

As for the Saints the only bad news they have is that forward Shane Long is a big doubt for the match after picking up a slight knock in his match for the Republic of Ireland on Tuesday evening. Full-back Ryan Bertrand should be fit to start after pulling out of the England squad prior to the friendlies against Germany and Holland with a calf injury. Both Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin have returned from respective foot and Hamstring injuries and will travel with the squad up to Leicester with both players expected to be on the bench. Florin Gardos has been back training for a number of weeks now but, remains a couple of weeks away from being match sharp.

Predicted line-ups

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Albrighton, Drinkwater, Kante, Mahrez; Vardy, Okazaki.

Southampton: Forster; Martina, Fonte, van Dijk, Bertrand;Targett, Romeu, Wanyama; Mane,Tadic, Pelle.